The Chuck Jones Galley in San Diego’s Gaslamp District will be showing paintings and sculpture byNancy Cartwright (The Simpsons, Rugrats) on Saturday, July 23rd at 7:30pm during San Diego International Comic Con (SDCC). Nancy is best known as the voice of Bart Simpson Fox’s iconic animated series The Simpsons. Open to the public, it is her very first gallery show.
She recently has created two bronze busts of Bart Simpson, which are on permanent display at the Newscorp’s New York headquarters and at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Steven Spielberg building in the Cinematic Arts Complex.
I had a chance to catch up with Nancy just before leaving for SDCC to talk about Bart, creating art, and her showing at the gallery.
It is a delight to talk with you. . .
About your artwork, of all things!
As someone with my fingers in many, many pots at any one time, I’m always am fascinated to talk with people who lead double (or more) lives.
Oh gosh. I lead … I think I lead eight lives or six to eight lives. I swear. I was like, “Man, the world … I feel my world is like an artist’s blank pallet, that I can create whatever I want on it.” I’m loving it. I’m writing. I’m producing. I’m not directing yet, but that may come. Right now, I’m not interested in directing. Writing and producing, animated and live action stuff and doing my art.
You’re known as a voice over actor. You’re going to Comic-Con as an artist. Can you expand on some of the other things you’re in to?
I wrote and produced a film. It’s in post-production right now. It’s based on a one-woman show that I did 20 years ago … Well, I did it in 1995. In fact, a lot of The Simpsons cast and producers and writers came to see me in it in 1995. That was based on an adventure that I took when I went to Italy in 1985 to go find and meet the late, great director Federico Fellini (La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2) .
That sounds ambitious
We’re in post-production for it. It’s called In Search of Fellini. That’s a lifelong dream to do.
Do you have distribution for it?
No, we’re waiting to hear from the Venice Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival. We were invited to be a part of Toronto. To me, I’m so proud of this work because it’s a 30-year investment. That I put in terms of a goal you get accomplished. Something very passionate that led to other things, like art that I’m doing. It really validated myself as an artist. I have a very, very small part in it. I produced it and co-wrote it with a fella named Peter Kjenaas.
I can’t wait to hear more about that, but let’s talk about the matter at hand—your new exhibit opening during Comic-Con at the Chuck Jones Gallery.
The art is something actually unique in itself in that it’s not traditional oil on canvas or watercolor on paper. It’s … I call it reverse painting because I … The medium is acrylic, and I use clear acrylic sheets, if you will, like a quarter-inch acrylic slab.
Like animation cells? That kind of …
That’s correct. In fact, that’s the whole idea behind it is that I do it in that way in reverse, where I will draw it and paint on one side, but you view it from the reverse side. What you’re doing is looking through a quarter-inch of acrylic to the paint design that I put on it. When I lay the paint down, I have to think in backwards order because if I do it in a traditional way, you’re not going to see what it is.
The viewer sees the underside of the painting, right. It sounds like a complex process.
Yeah, underside, but that’s the front.
What type of paint are you using?
Which has a lot of texture to it. That sounds like really cool.
It’s really bright. It pops. The colors are brilliant. I think it … I don’t know if it gets slightly magnified, but it’s super shiny because you’re looking through this wonderful acrylic sheet. I’ve got quite a number of pieces.
What do you like to paint?
Well, I first started … With the acrylics, I first just started doing smiley heads. I call them “smiley heads” because they’re just portraits of … They’re cartoonish-looking characters that I created. Then I started looking at it, going, “Wow.” [It seemed like] a whole different way to view art … I just started thinking about the masters, and I wondered if I could duplicate a van Gogh. Renoir. So I did a reverse painting of [van Gogh’s] “Starry Night.” What’s interesting about it to me is that these are not back-lit because they’re not meant to be back-lit. They’re meant to be put up against the wall, and the lights hit the front because they’re acrylics. It shows the paint strokes, and it’s not set up to be done that way. So, I did “Starry Night,” which will be seen at the exhibition. I thought, “Wow. I think it lends itself really, really well to pop art.” I did my own version of Andy Warhol’s famous [Campbell] soup cans.
You have to see it to really grasp the full impact of it. Let’s just say, I call it the “Hope of Mankind,” but something happens to the can itself that you’ll see in the three pieces. I’m curious how people are going to take it. It’s not just about cartoon animals and fish and funny Picasso-esque characters. You know?
I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’d like to talk about your sculpture work. . .
I’ve done about six sculptures. One of the being the twenty-inch head of Bart Simpson.
Yes. It’s now quite famous.
It sits quite publicly in front of the News Corp Building in New York City and also at … at USC’s Cinematic Art’s Department in the Steven Spielberg building.
How did you come to do it? The two Barts. . .
Fox asked me to do them. It was quite an investment on their part to do it and also throw the launch. It was like launch parties, both in LA and in New York. Joe Earley, who was the CEO at the time, said he wanted to do 25 of them, but time and expense. . . Twenty-five, that would have been quite a piece of change. So, we ended up doing the two. I was really very quite pleased with that because of the locations on one coast and another coast, just extraordinary. I love that it’s at USC, that it’s a school … A cinematic art department and just permanently there on display. I’m just so honored by that.
Congratulations. That’s wonderful.
Elizabeth Daley who’s the dean, Dean Elizabeth Daley arranged for that. She is a spitfire and just a pistol. We’re about the same size, so it was very much kindred spirits collaborating on this creative venture.
So here you are at San Diego Comic Con, exhibiting Saturday at the Chuck Jones Gallery in the Gaslamp District. Of course Jones was one of (if not the) most influential animation artists in the history of the craft with his Looney Toons and Merrie Melodies masterpieces for Warner Bros.
I met Chuck Jones a number of years ago, and we … Back in 2000 is that he did a webisode called “Timberwolf,” for the Internet. He asked me to be one of the lead characters in it. There was no audition for it. Of course I did it. Who wouldn’t want to work with Chuck Jones? I mean, he’s been producer, director, writer … Amazing and also a very impressive family man. I got to work with him a couple of years before he passed away.
What a treasure.
Yeah. It established a relationship between myself and his family. They run … His daughter and grandson run galleries. When they asked me to be a part of this, I … Clearly, I just jumped at the opportunity.
Nancy Cartwright’s showing at the Chuck Jones Gallery in San Diego’s Gaslamp District should not be missed. The gallery is celebrating its 25th anniversary celebrating the artistry of American pop culture. It is also the only gallery in San Diego dedicated to the art of the animated film, representing not only the work of its namesake, four-time Academy Award recipient and legendary animation director and creator, Chuck Jones, but also art work by Dr. Seuss, and all animation studios.
The gallery is located at 232 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101.